Imagine the top down, quick response gameplay of Hotline Miami mixed with the unstoppable Judge Dredd, performing his job by sentencing the criminals and freeing the innocent whilst destroying anything that gets in his way – Sounds good doesn’t it! This is what I felt while playing JYDGE, by 10tons, on the PS4 Pro this weekend. Whilst not officially anything to do with Judge Dredd or Mega-City One, I couldn’t stop my mind from thinking I was Dredd, running in there to uphold the law, whether they deserved it or not!
The game is simple in premise but deep in mechanics and customisations. You start off as a JYDGE, one of the police’s new initiative crime-fighting measures, and you are dropped right into your first mission, rescue the hostages and take out any hostile criminal. Armed with a basic gun you move with the left stick, aim with the right, melee with L1 and shoot with R1/R2 – The initial mission teaches you how one wrong move and you could alert the other hostiles who may execute the hostages or home in on your location and try to take you out.
Once the mission is complete the game is taken six months into the future, where the JYDGE program, after being shown how successful it was, has become the main crime prevention unit – and thus starts the main game. To put it simply, you play missions to earn medals and confiscate credits to unlock more powerful gear and features, the developer doesn’t call it a Rogue-like/lite game, they call it a Rogue-hate game as you can reload within seconds of dying (which you will do, a lot) whilst keeping some of the credits you earnt before you died, this way you can continue to upgrade your gear if you are stuck without having to start all over again. One other thing I thought was quite cool, a ‘loading screen tip’ that popped up said that if you have trouble with the bosses, they have lower energy on Monday’s – I thought that was quite a nice touch (I’ll be playing mainly on Mondays then!) but I don’t know what/if anything happens on other days.
Upon gaining your first credits you can unlock the Cybernetics Lab – this is where the fun begins! This is the area where you can purchase ‘Cyberware augmentations’ for your JYDGE, at the beginning you only have extra armour, increased citizen heath (for those friendly fire casualties) and automatically electrocute nearby hostiles (my choice) – over time, by completing missions, you can unlock thirty-five different augmentations (I recommend the one you get later for the riot shield as it’s very helpful in the ‘don’t get damaged’ missions).
You can also unlock customising your ‘Gavel Mk 1’ (your gun) once you complete 3 missions, this has the possibility of fourteen different ‘Fire modes’ (bullets), 15 different special attacks (L2) and 25 different Gavel mods, such as draining health as you kill or even making your bullets immune to civilians. Overall, 10tons have stated there is a BILLION different combinations you can have! So, I’m guessing there may be things I haven’t seen yet!
The levels are set into acts (four in total) with five levels in each; however, each level has three ‘missions’ for you to complete. If you complete this missions then you obtain a medal which is used to progress further in the story and unlock new mods/augmentations. What’s good is the fact you don’t need to aim to get all the missions in one run, so you could unlock medal one and three then re-play the level to get medal two. Some of the medals are easy like ‘rescue the civilians’ and then some are painfully hard like ‘kill all enemies in 28 seconds’ or ‘Exit in 15 seconds’ (when you have three civilians to rescue as well as exit the level).
That leads me to my final point, the difficulty. I’m going to hold my hands up here and say that I’m not the greatest at games like this, I always die and tend to give up, however with JYDGE I was determined to get as far as I could without ripping any of my hair out and at first, it was okay. The majority of my deaths, to begin with, were down to me shooting innocent people, which was totally my fault, and I managed to get through Act 1 without too much trouble until I noticed I hadn’t got enough medals for Act 2 and it would be impossible to do so! Then it became clear, the game activated ‘Hardcore mode’, three new missions for each level (so now six for each level) with the hardcore section being much tougher than the normal ones. This added a lot of replayability as I went back and beat all of the levels again with these new missions and even new placements of enemies and civilians in some cases. Looking at the trophy list, I presume after beating the end boss on each act will similarly unlock a new difficulty mode for all previous levels – so yeah, there are only twenty levels, but there is a total of 80 levels including the four difficulties with 320 missions to complete, that should keep you busy for quite a while!
JYDGE is a great example of how to do a twin-stick shooter correctly. Based on 10tons history, I imagine these types of games are second nature to them by now and it really shows. The game can be challenging, but you are rewarded well with progression in the main story and the magnitude of unlocks you gain throughout your playthrough. If you have played their previous games, Neon Chrome or Crimsonland then you will really feel at home with the familiar, yet different environments and mechanics – no more having to restart the whole game when you die, just send in a new JYDGE and continue! I enjoyed this game and recommend it to fans of twin-stick shooter games and even fans of the Hotline Miami series.
**Review code kindly provided by the developer**
- Easy to pick up and play for short bursts
- Millions of combinations to make your JYDGE your own
- The music really gets you pumped for the level you are on
- Art style is really fitting, borrowing assets from Neon Chrome and Crimsonland
- The environment is almost fully destructible, see an enemy behind the wall? Smash it and get him!
- Difficulty spikes may put some people off
- You can get overwhelmed with all the different mods and augmentations
- If you’re stuck, you may not be able to proceed further into the game (by unlocking medals)